SOMERVILLE, N.J (CBS/AP) Former NBA star Jayson Williams was sentenced to five years in prison today for fatally shooting a hired driver in 2002.
(AP Photo/Matt Rainey)
Photo: Williams in Court
In 2004, a jury found Williams guilty on charges related to covering up the shooting, acquitted him on charges of aggravated manslaughter, and was deadlocked on the charge of reckless manslaughter. Last month, Williams pled guilty to aggravated assault in a deal that lets him avoid a retrial for the charge of reckless manslaughter.
State Superior Court Judge Edward Coleman sentenced Williams to five years for the cover-up counts, a sentence that will run concurrently with the assault sentence. In court Tuesday, a tearful Williams turned and apologized to Andrea Adams, Christofi's sister, saying, "There's not a day I wake up that I don't feel sorry for what I did to Mr. Christofi and that I put you through this."
A court employee read a letter written by Adams, which said that the punishment "didn't fit the crime" and spoke of "eight years of agony watching Jayson Williams prance around and live his life and acting like nothing happened." Williams paid Christofi's family more than $2 million in 2003 to settle a wrongful death lawsuit.
Williams admitted at his plea hearing last month that he gave Christofi and a group of friends a tour of the house and showed them his gun collection. While showing off a double-barreled 12-gauge shotgun, he said he failed to check the safety mechanism and inspected only one of the two barrels before snapping it shut.
The gun fired, striking Christofi once in the chest and killing him. Witnesses testified that Williams tried to cover up his involvement by initially placing the gun in Christofi's hands and instructing those present in the bedroom to lie about what happened.
Williams had been free on bail since being charged in 2002, but was taken from the courtroom in handcuffs to begin serving his sentence. He will be eligible for parole in 18 months.